- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2018

President Trump on Thursday revealed his plan to address gun violence in schools, putting an emphasis on mental health, background checks, raising the requirement age to own a firearm and ending bump stock sales.

“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

The president held a listening session with students and parents involved in mass shootings as schools, including those from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died last week in a mass shooting.

The suspected shooter, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, had a propensity for violence, according to disturbing social media posts. Police said he used an AR-15 to carry out the mass shooting. Mr. Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the Parkland case and is being held without bond.

Mr. Trump asked participants at the White House what they thought of giving teachers the option to train and carry a firearm in schools. Some parents, like Andrew Pollock who lost his 15-year-old daughter Meadow in the Stoneman Douglas shooting, responded positively, saying that police take too long when a gunman is loose in the school.

But some parents, like Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, said teachers should not have to bear the burden of engaging in a shootout.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump meets with parents, students impacted by school shootings

Mr. Trump also pushed back Thursday on the idea that he supported arming all teachers. He said he only supports the idea for teachers who want the option of carrying a weapon, or have previous experience in military or defense situations.

“I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC. What I said was to look at the possibility of giving ‘concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience - only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

He continued, “….immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions. Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”

Mr. Trump said the goal of arming teachers would be to deter a potential shooter from entering schools to commit these crimes. He said these gunmen know schools are less secure than other office or government buildings, making them targets, but having trained and armed faculty could change that.

“….History shows that a school shooting lasts, on average, 3 minutes. It takes police & first responders approximately 5 to 8 minutes to get to site of crime. Highly trained, gun adept, teachers/coaches would solve the problem instantly, before police arrive. GREAT DETERRENT!” he tweeted.

“….If a potential “sicko shooter” knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school. Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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